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Tips for choosing a professional speaker or entertainer

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Choosing a professional speaker is a choice we assist you with. To take the headache out of your planning and organisation to ensure your event runs smoothly and professionally

Decide on the Theme

It’s no use looking for a wildlife speaker, if your theme is Future Global Trends. If you’re not sure whether there are any speakers who will cover anything related to your theme – ask a reputable agent. They will certainly be able to help you.

Ask Around

The very best way to find a good professional speaker is by word of mouth. If a speaker is good, trust me, the word will spread. This is a really small industry and it doesn’t take long for a speaker to develop a reputation – either good or bad.

Phone an Agent

Of course, I’m completely unbiased on this one. The value of an agent – I strongly believe – lies in his/her experience of which speaker addresses which topic best, to suit which kind of audience. However, beware! There are many people with Google and a cell-phone calling themselves agents – a good question to always ask is whether the agent has actually seen the speaker speak.

Shop Around

Again – a word of warning: there are agents; and then there are Agents! Ethical agencies are working hard towards a “one exit price” strategy with a professional speaker, wherein their commission is paid to them from the speaker’s fee, so that they don’t have to “add on” to make their money.

In the past, it was more than a nit of a free-for-all, and some hapless clients have been saddled with bills more than twice (or three times!) the speaker’s fee! A good way to find out what you’re paying is to ask the speaker!!

Believe me, they’ll also be delighted to help weed out the unscrupulous, greedy sods by telling you what their fees is. If an agency forbids you (or the speaker) to discuss fees – it’s time you smelt a big, smelly rat!

Tips for choosing a professional speaker or entertainer

Get references – verbal and written

Whether you book a professional speaker directly or through an agent, I believe it’s always a good idea to get some references. Bear in mind that if an agent has seen the speaker in action, that should count as a strong reference in itself.

No agency worth its salt and remotely concerned about it’s reputation would want to place a speaker who’s not worthy of flying their (the agency’s) flag.

If you’re dealing directly with the speaker, get them to provide you with written and verbal references – and then, for goodness sake – check them! Phone the people. Remember that it’s your reputation on the line, too. a speaker will only ever give you the glowing wonderful “standing ovations” reviews so make sure you get the client contact details and CHECK THEM!

Get a Contract

This is something that an agency will automatically do for you, s will any professional speaker worth their fee.

Check the fine print, though, particularly with regard to cancellation clauses – I know of one professional speaker who insists on a 100% cancellation fee from the moment you sign the contract, regardless of how long in advance you either cancel OR postpone the event.

This isn’t a policy we endorse, so we don’t work with that speaker, but for your own peace of mind, read the little words!

Something else to watch out for is travel costs. Some speakers will insist on flying Business Class, while happily most of them will fly economy, as long as it’s a changeable ticket. Most speakers nowadays will want to do their own travel arrangements, as we prefer to do for our clients, too.

We try and save money for you wherever we can and if we are able to book a really inexpensive ticket because we know the speaker’s booking around that time and can thus book non-changeable tickets, we do.

We absolutely believe that travel should not cost the same as the speaker’s fee!

Insist on a Briefing

Many of our top-notch speakers are simply too busy speaking (and traveling to speak), to be able to do personal briefing meetings. However, at the very least they should agree to a telephonic briefing.

The best way to make sure the speaker knows what you expect from him on the day is to give them both a telephonic and written brief. This way they have a black and white “back up” of their conversation with you.

Any decent agency will send you a Pre-Appearance Questionnaire, which will greatly help you in getting the relevant information through to the professional speaker.

This way you will also have something to fall back on, in the unfortunate event of a professional speaker not fulfilling his brief to you.

I once worked with a professional speaker who completely ignored the detailed (three hour long) verbal briefing as well as written (I personally delivered the pack of documents to him, in his hands) brief. He simply got up on the stage and delivered his usual “canned” presentation.

He didn’t give a hoot who he was speaking to, and even referred to the Chairman of the Board who had spoken immediately before him, as “that oke”! Needless to say my client was underwhelmed to say the least, and they haven’t booked him since. Even more needless to say, neither have we!!

Check the technical rider

The what?? Yep, the technical rider. In the old days, we used to call this the speaker’s equipment requirements.

But that phrase is SO last century. Seriously though, check out what they need carefully. Most venues do not supply proximas (that’s a data-projector, by the way) and CD sound systems as standard equipment, and this could impact quite dramatically on your budget.

When we first started this business a little over 25 years ago, the idea was that we’d facilitate opportunities for companies to host events, launches, ceremonies, etc… in a way that was meaningful, and cost effective.

Bronwyn

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